Posts Tagged ‘starting a plant nursery’

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We’ve had a lot of emails around the subject of plant breeders rights and if it’s possible to start your own little plant nursery without running into problems.

A brief explanation of Plant Breeders Rights or PBR
PBR is essentially a pay to grow scheme, which originated with a number of wheat breeders back in the 50’s. Much like today the originators of the scheme wanted to protect their investment in producing new varieties.

More recently in June 1997 the Labour Minister of State for Agriculture introduced a new Plant Varieties Act to MP’s which essentially strengthened the position of the breeders and introduced many more varieties of plants under the protection of the scheme.

The problem was and still is today proving the breeder owns the rights to the plant. Among the objections raised is if a plant came from the original variety potentially over a 100 years ago by definition any ‘right’ to propagate that plant can’t be proved, can it?

Either way PBR is here to stay (for the moment anyway) and we small growers need a plan if we’re to pursue our passion for growing and selling plants.

Is it still possible for small growers to propagate plants for a profit?
PBR is difficult territory to say the least but I think there is a way forward.

A large proportion of the modern cultivars are covered under PBR, so probably best to steer clear of those if you’re propagating your own for sale. Check the label and look for the PBR logo and the PBR registration id. If they’re not on the label then you’re going to have to do a little more research. The CPVO web site is as good a place to start as any.

I think the safest route is to seek out plants that are not covered by copyright, patent or plant breeders right and start building a collection from there.

There are so many wonderful old varieties out there that people love to grow and more than enough for the small plant growers to kick start a little plant nursery business.

If you really want to grow and sell the modern cultivars then you can always try and track down the owner of the registration and negotiate a license fee, or perhaps work out terms around legitimately taking cuttings for resale. All I would say is I’ve tried it and it’s not easy!

Where do TRG stand on this subject?

I’m pretty clear on where I stand with regards to PBR. I don’t preoccupy myself with it as I don’t believe the people who buy my plants really care where the plants come from, they’re more interested in what they look like, if they have a scent and will they grow in my soil!

I appreciate PBR is there to protect the plant breeders investment, but I don’t like the idea of the small growers like you and me being deterred from making a few extra pounds to support our hobby. If the big growers want to grow and sell PBR protected plants then that’s ok … I just not going to raise them (knowingly) myself. There is too much fun to had elsewhere.

That’s fine but I’m worried out being made to look like a criminal? 

I know of no one that has been fined for selling PBR protected plants … at least not the small growers like you and me. PBR remains a grey area and peppered with inconsistencies, but it’s here and here to stay so my advice? If you’re unsure about a plant’s origin then don’t put it up for sale, other than perhaps from a table at your local charity event or bring and buy sale.

Will PBR put TRG off selling plants in the future?

PBR will not put me off pursuing my passion. My advice to anyone else worried about PBR is, don’t get distracted by it too much or you’ll never get started!

Seek out those plants that are not protected (at least for now) and grow as many of them as you can so we can keep them out there for us all to enjoy.

We sell traditional old cultivars in our back garden nursery, which is fine as there are hundreds of varieties to choose from most of which are real beauties! We’re also looking at becoming a registered reseller for certain varieties, but it’s early days and selling the unprotected cultivars is our preferred route for now. We also include a little logo on our plant labels which we hope will come to represent plants that are free of PBR in the future and provide others like us with plants they can confidently start growing for their own stock.

As we seek out more varieties we’ll share them with our readers and periodically publish a list of known PBR exempt plants which we hope might prove useful to other like minded souls.

If you’d like to know more about PBR protected plants there are some excellent posts out there. – The proprietor has much to share around PBR. – Interesting read. – particulary we’ll prepared post.

Don’t forget the clocks go forward this weekend!

Happy days.

Best wishes,


John And Tania The Rural Gardeners



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